ANAHEIM -- As dusk turned to night on Monday in southern California, one thing was clear about the Yankees'
Girardi's unusual behavior began in the sixth inning, when the Yankees led 3-1 behind solo home runs from
While Pettitte's rhythm and concentration might have been broken, it's hard to pin the homer even largely on Girardi. It might have just been an unfortunate coincidence; and, anyway, the moves that came next were far stranger. In the bottom of the seventh, after the Angels had inched ahead 4-3, Girardi called upon left-handed pitcher
Girardi's meddling continued in the bottom of the tenth, when the Angels had the bases loaded against
It was not until the bottom of the 11th, though, that Girardi's manic managing really backfired.
In most ways, Robertson is quantifiably a better pitcher than Aceves: he has nearly twice Aceves' strikeout rate, had a lower ERA this year (3.34 to 3.54), and has been pitching better lately (Robertson has a post-All-Star break ERA of 3.00, to Aceves' 4.65). But Girardi saw something he liked in an Aceves-versus-Kendrick matchup -- perhaps that Kendrick is a fastball hitter, and Aceves throws junk -- and made yet another unconventional move. First Girardi pulled a lefty reliever in favor of a lefty reliever against a left-handed batter; now he was pulling a righty reliever in favor of a righty reliever against a right-handed batter. "We liked the matchup with Ace better," he explained afterwards. "It's just different kind of stuff against those hitters. And we have all the match-ups, and all the scouting reports, and we felt that, you know, it was a better match for us."
It wasn't. Kendrick drilled a single to center, and then Mathis hit his double, and the game was over. Videotaped monkeys jumped around, fireworks exploded, and artificial geysers spouted beyond the left-field wall. Girardi had finally made his last managerial move of the day.
"Wow, they wanted to win," Angels center fielder
On Saturday night's Game 2 victory in New York, Girardi also played a lot of tricks, some questionable -- for instance, he used his two best set-up men,
The Angels, for their part, finally figured out the secret to winning a playoff game against the Yankees. All you need to do is make sure they go 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position, and that they leave 12 runners on base, and create for yourself so many separate chances in which you absolutely should put them away (Abreu's "double" in the eighth, the bases loaded situation in the 10th, and the Kendrick and Mathis hits in the 11th) that you'll likely come through on one of them. That formula, of course, isn't easily repeatable. The Yankees, up two games to one and with their ace,